After weeks of campaigning through hostility and intimidation, Russia’s president has finally got what he is after.
After weeks of campaigning through hostility and intimidation, Russia’s president has finally got what he is after. 97 per cent of Crimeans have voted to join Russia in the 16 March referendum, after the Crimean parliament stated “in the case that the referendum on 16 March shows that Crimea should become part of the Russian Federation, then Crimea will become an independent and sovereign state in the form of a republic.”
Vote not recognised
However heightened international political tensions have arisen as the referendum has not been recognised by Ukraine, the EU or by the US. In talks to MPs in parliament early last week, David Cameron explained “we are all clear that that any referendum vote in Crimea this week will be illegal, illegitimate and will not be recognised by the international community.”
The White House has also reported that Obama “emphasised that Russia’s actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” during a phone call with Putin on Sunday night.
Many Russian officials have seen their off-shore bank accounts frozen and their travel visas rebuked. The CEO of Gazprom, Russia’s largest gas exporter, Alexei Miller and boss of Rosneft, Russia’s oil producer, are amongst the large number of individuals that will be affected, but Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian foreign minister has opposed the idea of Russia’s top businessmen being placed on the EU Sanctions list, in the hope of preventing a trade war between Russia and its European competitors.
Sanctions could lead to “economic whiplash”
Bruno Waterfield of the Telegraph stated that “The European Union will threaten Russia with a new cold war and “far-reaching” economic blockade if Vladimir Putin annexes Crimea” and this certainly seems to be an option. William Hague, Foreign Secretary explained that “we are prepared to move to further measures so there will be long term costs and consequences for Russia if they continure to approach things in this way.” Yet such action would mean a domino effect of economic whiplash as 30 per cent of the EU’s natural gas comes from Russia.
Rustam Temirgaliyev, Crimea’s deputy prime minister, explained that Crimea is not the only place looking to join Russia: “Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkiv have the same situation as in Crimea, 75 per cent of people want to join Russia in eastern Ukraine.”
Sergei Neverov stated that the “results of the referendum in Crimea clearly showed that residents of Crimea see their future only are part of Russia” but how true is this?
With mass bombardment of military troops that Putin described as being in Crimea, purely to “protect” the 58 per cent of ethnic Russians there, how accurate can the referendum vote have been? Although many hit the streets on Sunday night to celebrate, many have had to escape Crimea due to there pro-Ukrainian views.
When protesting against the militia, many have been met with threats of gunfire. The head of Crinmea’s Ukrainian Council, Andrei Schekun and Antatoly Kovalsky, a trustee at a Ukrainian school in Simferopol, disappeared hours before they were due to speak at a anti-secessionist rally last Sunday.
This cannot be purely coincidental and mixed with the presence of thuggish militia and vast amounts of pro-secessionist Russian propaganda, such a vote comes as no surprise to western eyes.
Russia and Ukraine have agreed a truce in the region until Friday, with Ukraine’s acting defence minister Ihor Tenyukh stating “no measures will be taken against our military facilities in Crimea during that time” continuing to explain that “our military sites are therefore proceeding with a replenishment of reserves” as they have been blockaded for the last few weeks by Russian militia, with local residents sneaking food to the troops.
However it is already obvious that such a truce is to be short-lived and Ukraine’s military has already been shown to be no match for Russian militia.
Do you support the actions of the government in protesting the votes’ legitimacy or believe that western focus is too much on our recent political history and are acting out of fear to a potential cold war re-emergence? Let us know in the comments below.